Writing Stats and Inexpensive Netbook Software

Image Source: http://community.saugususd.org/swattec/files/172/1531/CSTGraph.png

Student writing tests showed an average thirty-seven percent (37%) gain from the beginning of the year, with several students achieving fifty percent (50%) or more individually!  Both student and teacher technology literacy also showed impressive gains, and students are more actively engaged and participating in their own learning.
Source: http://community.saugususd.org/swattec/page/

Mention this subject at the wrong meeting, and you might find yourself in the equivalent of school district Siberia, isolated and separated from the conversations that can bring about change. The subject? Free, open source software.

Some of the controversial conversation topics include:

  • Dropping MS Windows as the default operating system on student computers
  • Dropping MS Office as the default Office suite and switching to Open Office or GoogleDocs/GoogleApps for Education (both free)
That's why it's refreshing to read a success story like the one that I happened to catch via Twitter this weekend as I recovered from too much yard work:
The SWATTEC (Student Writing Achievement Through Technology Enhanced Collaboration) initiative at the Saugus Union School District is an exciting program targeting fourth grade writing, information literacy, and Internet skills in a technology-rich environment. Through funding from an EETT (Enhancing Education Through Technology) grant, every fourth grade student throughout the district receives an ultra-mobile device, more commonly referred to as a "netbook", and engages in collaborative learning through the use of online evaluation, assessment, and social media tools.

While it's obvious it's not just about the netbook provided, it's also about the attitude towards technology. Some of the common obstacles to overcome:
  • The importance of remembering WHO THE TECHNOLOGY IS FOR--students!
  • Don't make your technical support issues THE deciding factors
  • Finding ways to stretch your district (taxpayer) dollars stretch rather than just buying what is most convenient or products from vendors who buy you lunch and dinner at conferences.
Now, imagine running Ubuntu Linux on all those netbooks...what would make someone want to do that? What circumstances made picking a free open source operating system the best choice?

Some more resources on that choice from Jim Klein:

SaugusUSD SWATTEC Project: http://community.saugususd.org/swattec/page/
SaugusUSD Linux on Netbooks: http://community.saugususd.org/swattec/page/Linux+on+Netbooks
Saugus K12 Social Networking Resources: http://community.saugususd.org/jklein/page/Social+Networking
K12 Social Networking Presentation at Harvard: http://www.slideshare.net/jnetman1/k12-social-networking-harvard

Blog Posts and Commentary:
When do Laptops Become School Supplies? (Jim Klein) http://is.gd/3wWvq
Netbooks and Open-source: Rethinking Laptops and Learning? (Jim Klein): http://is.gd/4fCRU
Linux on Netbooks and Whiskers on Kittens (Karl Fisch) http://is.gd/3wWBf
Transitioning to 1:1 Netbook via BYOL (Wes Fryer) http://is.gd/3wWFY
The Value of Comment Moderation and Feedback... (Wes Fryer) http://is.gd/3wWIC
Quit Substituting Expensive EdTech Gadgets for the “Real Deal” (John Patten) http://is.gd/3wWKH

Key Open Source Projects:
The OpenDisc - http://www.theopendisc.com
Elgg Open Source Social Engine – http://elgg.org
Ubuntu Linux: http://www.ubuntu.com
iTalc Project - http://italc.sourceforge.net

K12 Open Source Resources:
CoSN K12 Open Technologies Initiative: http://k12opentech.org
K12OpenSource.com: http://www.k12opensource.com
K12OpenSource.org: http://www.k12opensource.org
Jim Klein's Open Source Pages: http://community.saugususd.org/jklein/page/Open+Technologies
K12 Open Source Help (Contractor): http://k12opensourcehelp.com

Great Netbooks for Linux:
Asus EeePC: http://eeepc.asus.com
Acer AspireOne: http://us.acer.com
Dell Mini: http://www.dell.com/home/netbooks

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Georgie Pie said…
Have you ever considered SSuite Office as a free alternative to MS Office?

Their software also doesn't need to run on Java or .NET, like MS Office and so many open source office suites, so it makes their software very small, efficient, and easy to use. :)


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